Mercia Bowser, who was retired from a career working for Catholic Charities and the DC Office on Aging, died Wednesday morning after she contracted COVID-19 and then developed pneumonia.
The mayor, 48, announced the death of her oldest sibling and only sister in a statement saying she ‘joins the legion of angels who have gone home too soon due to the pandemic’.
The heartbreaking announcement came just hours after Bowser confirmed 1,000 lives have now been lost to the virus in the capital city and declared February 24 a day of remembrance.
Mercia Bowser (pictured) , the 64-year-old sister of Washington DC Mayor Muriel Bowser has died of COVID-19 complications as the city reached its grim milestone of 1,000 virus deaths
The mayor, 48, announced the death of her oldest sibling and only sister in a statement saying she ‘joins the legion of angels who have gone home too soon due to the pandemic’
‘My family and I are mourning the loss of my sister, Mercia Bowser, who passed away this morning due to complications related to COVID-19,’ Bowser said in the statement Wednesday afternoon.
‘Mercia was loved immensely and will be missed greatly, as she joins the legion of angels who have gone home too soon due to the pandemic.’
Bowser urged Americans to keep ‘in your thoughts and prayers’ all those who have lost loved ones to the virus and asked that she be given ‘time and space’ to grieve for her sister.
‘I ask that you continue to keep those who have been lost or impacted by the pandemic and those who are working so hard to protect us from it in your thoughts and prayers, and I respectfully request that my family and I are granted the time and space we need to mourn the loss of Mercia,’ she said.
The mayor paid tribute to her sister who she said was ‘a loving daughter, sister, aunt, and friend’ and who ‘worked tirelessly for children, the elderly, and those with behavioral disorders until her retirement and beyond’.
‘She counted many friends and fond memories of her service to Catholic Charities and the DC Office on Aging,’ she said.
Bowser thanked the medical staff at Washington Hospital Center who had cared for Mercia up until her death.
The heartbreaking announcement came just hours after Bowser (pictured earlier this month) confirmed 1,000 lives have now been lost to the virus in the capital city
‘We are grateful to the doctors and nurses at Washington Hospital Center, who heroically treated her for COVID-19 related pneumonia until her death,’ she said.
‘We thank you for your kindness and will share how our family will honor Mercia, my only sister and oldest sibling, and her beautiful spirit in the coming days.’
Mercia is survived by her parents Joan and Joseph Bowser, four brothers, sister Muriel Bowser, nieces, nephews, and friends ‘ranging from St. John’s Elementary School, to Academy of Our Lady High School, to Fisk University, and Israel Metropolitan CME Church’.
Mercia was the eldest of six siblings and was in high school when her younger sister, who she nicknamed JB Jr., was born.
The Bowsers grew up in a politically active household, with their father Joe Bowser campaigning and being elected as an advisory neighborhood commissioner in DC more than four decades ago.
Bowser declared February 24 a day of remembrance for lives lost to COVID-19
But, unlike her sister, Mercia chose not to follow in her father’s footsteps.
She attended Fisk University and instead chose a career working for charities.
When her younger sister first ran for mayor in 2014, Mercia gently mocked her for going down the same route as their father, reported the Washington Post.
Mercia would have turned 65 on March 7.
Her death from COVID-19 comes just one day before DC officials will expand vaccine eligibility to a broader group including some residents aged 65-plus.
From Thursday February 25, residents who live in priority zip codes and are 65 and older, have a qualifying medical condition, and/or are a member of an eligible workforce will be eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
Mercia’s death makes her one of the more than 1,000 now killed by the virus in DC.
Just hours before naming her sister as one of the victims, Bowser announced the devastating death toll.
She declared February 24 ‘A day of remembrance for lives lost to COVID-19’ and encouraged houses of worship to honor the 1,000 killed at 6 p.m.
‘I hereby proclaim February 24, 2021 in Washington, DC as ‘A DAY OF REMEMBRANCE FOR LIVES LOST TO COVID-19′ and call on all Washingtonians to pause and remember more than 1,000 neighbors, family, and friends whose lives were lost to the virus,’ she tweeted.
In a statement, Bowser wrote: ‘This tragic milestone is a reminder that this pandemic has forever changed families and communities.
‘Even when the pandemic ends, for many, the pain and loss will still be there.’
Nationwide, more than 500,000 Americans have died and 28.3 million have been infected with the virus.